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Until late tonight, the House of Representatives will debate the nitrogen plans presented two weeks ago by nitrogen minister Christianne van der Wal (VVD). Those plans – in particular a map with percentages showing how much nitrogen should be reduced per location – led to a storm of criticism. Thousands of farmers protested in Stroe on Wednesday.
The right-wing opposition parties are making mincemeat of the cabinet plans. They believe that farmers are unnecessarily forced to stop their businesses. They also question the calculation models used to calculate nitrogen precipitation in nature. “The nitrogen plans are a slap in the face for the entire agricultural sector,” says SGP Member of Parliament Roelof Bisschop. “In many areas, we need to reduce to 95 percent in seven years. It inevitably leads to expropriation dramas.” The left-wing parties in the House – except SP – are in favor of far-reaching nitrogen reduction, in order to save nature in the Netherlands.
SGP member Bisschop clashes hard with coalition MP Pieter Grinwis (CU). The latter points out to Bishop that the year 2030, in which the nitrogen targets should be achieved, is not rock-solid: “You know the executive power of the government, sometimes projects take a little longer.” That is against Bishop’s sore leg. “Amazing,” says the SGP member. “This is no way to do politics,” he says. “First the goals had to be achieved in 2035, now in 2030. Those five years make a world of difference for farmers: it is a matter of to be or not to be† According to Caroline van der Plas (BBB), ‘farmers have to leave because the government wants to have the land’.
Resistance within coalition
Within the coalition, opposition to Minister Van der Wal’s nitrogen plan is also increasing. For example, CDA and CU are very critical of the map with the percentages. They have questions about the substantiation of those percentages. They also find that farmers have been terrified by the way the ticket was brought out.
Yet it does not appear that support for Van der Wal is disappearing. The minister already said on Wednesday that the map is not cast in concrete. According to her, it is possible to discuss the way in which the nitrogen targets can be achieved. The provinces also have a large say in this. “Every map is an intermediate position,” says Van der Wal at the start of the nitrogen debate. “An intermediate step, towards further refinement. The card must be final, inescapably, on July 1, 2023.”
The government’s goal, however, remains unchanged: a 50 percent nitrogen reduction by 2030. That goal is still acceptable for the VVD, CDA and CU. Coalition party D66 has already said that the nitrogen target should not be weakened.
According to BBB MP Van der Plas, ‘no beet’ is correct on the map. She argues that the current nitrogen plans for banks are reason to ‘tighten the stranglehold for farmers even tighter’. “Banks no longer want to give farmers financing.” BBB and JA21 are jointly making a proposal for an alternative repair law, in which the knife is cut in nature reserves in the Netherlands. But the coalition parties are not in favor of that: according to the VVD, it has not been possible in Brussels to merge natural areas. The previous government has already tried that. Jesse Klaver (GL) accuses Van der Plas of ‘flat populism’. “You should not howl with the wolves, you should be honest,” says Klaver.
Text continues below the video. Video: The Live Debate